Here's a scouting report the Southwestern University men's basketball players probably didn't get on Saturday — if you foul Schreiner University more than 20 times in a game, the Mountaineers are likely to convert 70% of their free throws.
So, what did Southwestern do in Kerrville on Saturday night? Playing true to their nickname, the Pirates hacked, chopped, and bludgeoned Schreiner 30 times, leading the Mountaineers to the free-throw line 42 times. And you guessed it, Schreiner made 30-of-42 free throws (71.4%).
In turn, Schreiner held off Southwestern to earn its fourth straight victory with a 77-70 win. The Pirates, of course, violated the rule of not sending the Mountaineers to the line more than 20 times — where Schreiner is likely to shoot less than 70% from the line.
"Depth is really helping us this year," said Schreiner coach Marwan Elrakabawy, whose team is now 4-2 in the Southern Collegiate Athletic Conference. "The freshmen have brought so much energy. Kamden Ross has athleticism. We just have athleticism that we haven't had in the past. These guys just give us a lot of juice."
That "juice" has the Mountaineers back in the hunt for a shot at a conference title. After losing two close games to open the SCAC season, the Mountaineers have improved dramatically in the last few weeks.
Ross proved a dominant force, playing arguably his best game of the season, with a team-high 21 points and 12 rebounds. The performance was Ross' fourth double-double of the season.
Elrakabawy credits some of that success to the New Year's weekend road trip that produced wins at Houston St. Thomas and Colorado College. He said those wins helped bond the team.
That's not saying that the Mountaineers always played great on Saturday night. However, their depth shows, especially with Bronson Evans coming off the bench. Evans scored eight points and eight rebounds in 15 minutes of action.
There were rough patches for the Mountaineers. Their woes from 3-point range resurfaced in a big way against Southwestern — converting 5-of-28 attempts. It has been a problem all season.
Southwestern led most of the first half before the Mountaineers started to grind the Pirates down to take a 37-36 halftime lead. In the second half, the lead changed hands six times before Ross' layup with 1:42 broke a 70-70 tie. The Mountaineers would close the Pirates out the rest of the way to seal the win.
However, Elrakabawy also stuck with his starters for lengthier stretches than usual. Ross, Darian Gibson, Jackson Reid and Alex Dehoyos played more than 25 minutes each. Dehoyos scored 13 points, while Gibson added 10. Reid hit three 3-pointers.